Google is both right and wrong when it comes to your right to repair

Google Pixel 6 Pro repair
(Image credit: iFitix via Google)

In recent years, the right-to-repair movement has gained momentum as consumers and advocates push for the ability to fix their own electronic devices. Google, a tech giant known for its attempts to influence the industry, has expressed support for the right to repair, and we love to see it.

While advocacy is commendable, companies like Google shouldn't try to shape repair policies. It's a clear conflict of interest when the company wants to dictate which parts should be sold or that we shouldn't have the freedom to make our own mistakes.

Google's endorsement of the right to repair aligns with the growing demand for more sustainable and consumer-friendly practices within the tech industry. Acknowledging that repairability is a crucial aspect of product longevity and environmental sustainability is important and seeing support is great. 

Supporting the right to repair also promotes a more competitive and open market, where consumers have the freedom to choose where and how they get their devices fixed. With the recent focus on Google's anticompetitive nature, anything to make the market more competitive is in the company's best interests.

A look at the internal display replacement kit for the Pixel Fold.

(Image credit: iFixit)

The right to repair also empowers consumers by giving them control over their devices. Enabling us to fix our gadgets fosters a true sense of ownership and reduces dependence on phone makers, creating a more transparent and user-friendly market.

This opens up new economic opportunities, possibly enabling a thriving repair industry. Local repair shops and independent technicians create jobs and stimulate economic growth.

Repairing devices instead of discarding and replacing them helps minimize the ecological footprint associated with electronic manufacturing. Extending their lifespan by allowing users to have access to replacement parts can also have a significant impact on the huge amount of electronic waste we generate every year.

All tech companies, not just Google, should fully support the right-to-repair movement.

Seeing Google's support of the right-to-repair initiative in Oregon is a positive step toward a more sustainable and consumer-friendly tech industry. By actively endorsing repairability, the company sends a message to both consumers and other tech giants about the importance of embracing practices that benefit the environment and users alike. 

This is where Google's input on the matter should end, though. The company should have no say whatsoever when it comes to the actual policies put in place.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra sustainability infographic

(Image credit: Samsung)

We should applaud Google's support for the right to repair but also recognize it is essential for the company to tread carefully when it comes to involvement in shaping repair policies. 

Tech giants can (and often do) exert significant influence when it comes to policy decisions. They are often major financial contributors to lawmakers and aren't afraid to tout their contributions to the economy. The people charged with creating these policies know exactly what a company like Google wants when it comes to making laws.

This means there is a risk that its involvement could lead to policies that favor their business interests over ours or the broader goals of the right-to-repair movement.

Google must respect the autonomy of lawmakers, regulators, and independent advocacy groups in determining repair policies. Besides serving the company's specific interests, any involvement in decision-making could erode public trust when it comes to smaller repair shops or even right-to-repair advocates in general.


(Image credit: Louis Velazquez)

Google may have our best interests in mind when it comes to the right to repair the gadgets we already paid for. Even if this is true, it's better if the company lets the folks we elected look out for us and make the decisions.

Balancing corporate interests with the broader goals of the right-to-repair movement is essential for creating a fair, competitive, and environmentally conscious tech landscape. 

Companies like Google that express support for right-to-repair should limit their involvement to selling us the parts we need rather than try to shape laws under the guise of user safety or expressing concern about any technician's qualifications. 

Google needs to simply allow users to make their own decisions and be responsible for their own mistakes.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.